Month: January 2015

Jan 29

I’m WILD about Cheryl Strayed

Memoirs 38

Howdy Bookworms!

Remember back when we read Tiny Beautiful Things for The Fellowship of the Worms and all I wanted to do was hug Cheryl Strayed? I picked up her memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the desire to hug her has only intensified. (No, I have not seen the movie. I kind of want to, though, since Reese Witherspoon and I share a birthday.)

wildFour years after the death of her mother, Strayed’s life was spiraling out of control. A series of poor decisions led to the collapse of her marriage and descent into drug abuse all while desperately mourning for her mother. One serendipitous day, Strayed comes across a book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and despite having absolutely no experience with punishing long distance hiking, Strayed decides to tackle the PCT. What follows is her tail of the trail, self discovery, and the world’s sorriest pair of feet. (Seriously, my feet WEPT in sympathy.)

I adored WildI typically dig memoirs, and this was no exception. I goggled at Strayed’s endless moxie in taking on the PCT hike, but I spent a lot of time cringing just the same. I am NOT a risk taker, so my inner monologue kept yelling things like “Just ask for help! I’ll buy you a Snapple Lemonade!” and “For heaven’s sake stop accepting rides from strange men!”

I also appreciated that she explained the fact that she changed her last name to Strayed post divorce. For years I’ve been mentally saying “Stray-Ed” all Shakespearean-like because I assumed it was her birth or married last name and as such would be pronounced slightly differently than the regular word. It is NOT. It is actually JUST the regular word. Enlightening. (I mentally pronounce Jojo Moyes as “Moy-Ez” which is probably wrong, too. I’m still having trouble hearing Rainbow Rowell as “Row” like “WOW” and not “Row” like, your boat, despite having heard a very nice NPR interview.) These aren’t even DIFFICULT names. The things wrong with me are many and varied.

Tell me, Bookworms, do any of you grossly mispronounce author’s names by accident? Just me?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Jan 27

Sensational Selections For Your Book Club

Book Club, Top Ten Tuesday 39

Howdy Bookworms!

You know that feeling when it’s your turn to choose a book for book club and you’re freaking out because you don’t know what to pick? I’ve got you covered! I’ve made a list of fool proof choices for your next meeting, thanks to a prompt from The Broke and the Bookish. It’s Top Ten Tuesday time, y’all!


1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett- This was the book choice for the very first book club meeting I ever attended. This was pre-movie and largely pre-hype, and we spent all kinds of time really talking about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some unrelated-to-the-book book club chatting, but it’s rather novel when the conversation stays on topic.

2. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (review)- I didn’t actually read this with any book club, but it’s just SO GOOD and SO FULL of great discussion topics that it would be fantastic in a book club setting.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (review)- My experience with discussion of this book is from an English class in college, but I love this book so much. How great would it be to talk about with your book club? There’s so much MEAT.

4. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (review)- We read this with The Fellowship of the Worms and it was utterly delightful. It’s like catnip for book nerds, you can’t resist the charm.

5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (review)- I discussed this book with two different book clubs and it provided excellent material both times. There’s just so much that’s jaw-dropping and crazy in this memoir that you can’t help but talk about ALL THE THINGS.


6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (review)- This was another Fellowship of the Worms selection and it was great fun. I’m a sucker for books about book clubs, and reading it IN BOOK CLUB? So meta.

7. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (review)- I never discussed this one with a book club (though I have read Left Neglected by Lisa Genova with two book clubs and it’s another great choice) This book is SO powerful and heartbreaking. It’s utterly discussable.

8. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (review)- Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s easier to convince a group to read a book if the movie version stars Bradley Cooper. This book was charming and chock full of things to talk about, so the Bradley Cooper factor is really just a means to an end.

9. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi- I went back and forth trying to decide whether to include this book or The Book Thief (review) on this list. They’re both great and both tackle the fascinating subject matter of how ordinary Germans lived and felt during WWII. I went with Stones from the River because I feel like it’s less exposed and so incredible that more people ought to be reading it.

10. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review)- Post apocalyptic novels always make for interesting discussions, and this is one of the best novels of its type I’ve read in a good long time. I think it would make a fantastic book club selection.

ss2I know there are zillions of wonderful book club appropriate books out there, what are some of your favorites, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*



Jan 26

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Contemporary Fiction 23

G’Day Bookworms!

I was engaging in a little behind the scenes book chatter recently (it is every bit as glamorous as it sounds, I assure you) when some serious raving began over Brooke Davis’s debut novel Lost & Found. I am highly susceptible to peer pressure, so naturally, I clicked my way on over to NetGalley to see if I could snag myself a copy of this novel. Fortune smiled, and I was granted access to a complimentary copy of Lost & Found for review consideration. No worries, though, my review will still be honest. I’m a little like Agatha Pantha that way, but you’ll have to keep reading to get that reference…
9780525954682_medium_Lost_&_FoundMillie is a 7 year old girl living in Australia. After her father passes away, her mother slowly withdraws until one day she takes Millie to a department store and abandons her in the lingerie section. While hanging around said department store, Millie joins forces with an unlikely elderly ally, Karl the Touch Typist. He engages in air stenography and makes friends with mannequins. The odd little duo is soon joined by Agatha Pantha, an elderly widow and shut in. She has spent the years since her husband died shouting vitriolic honesty out her window and listening to TV static. Can you think of a better trio to go on a cross country quest to chase down Millie’s mother?

I really wanted to LOVE this book, but my feelings are rather conflicted. On the one hand, I loved the quirky characters. Precocious children and eccentric elderly folks are a pretty irresistible combination. That said, the subject matter was unbelievably heartbreaking. The book is well written, but seeing as it’s January and I’m in the midst of the winter blahs, I had hoped it would be a little more uplifting. When I finished it, I didn’t have a life affirming feeling, it was more of a vague foggy sadness. It makes me wonder if I’d feel differently had I read the book in the summer, seeing as I’m less of a moody basket case when the sun doesn’t set before I leave work. Even though this wasn’t a super fantastic 5 star read for me, I can see a lot of y’all loving it. Seriously, if you like oddball characters and laughter-through-tears Lost & Found might be a big winner for you.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you ever think that the timing of when you read a book affects your opinion of it?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’m going to put it toward a pair of red gum boots because Millie has killer fashion sense.*


Jan 22

No Leg to Stand On: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 21

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s been about a year since I launched the Idiosyncratic Lit List feature, and I’m still endlessly entertained by it. My first list had to do with characters who were missing their arms, so OBVIOUSLY I’m going to celebrate this unofficial anniversary by making a list of characters who have lost their legs. Fictional appendages for everyone!


1. Ian Murray from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon: Poor Ian lost his leg thanks to some nasty grapeshot he encountered while fighting as a mercenary in France. Luckily, he had Jenny Fraser waiting for him back in Scotland, which I think he’d agree was a pretty good consolation prize.

2. Gus from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: One of the most articulate teenagers ever, Gus lost his leg to a bout with osteosarcoma. Cancer is complete crap, but it can’t stop teenage luuuurve. There’s a venn diagram involved, but suffice it to say Gus is all about making the best of a hard situation. Yes. I went there. I think I just lost my “grown up” card.

3. Captain Ahab from Moby Dick by Herman Melville: This list would be incomplete without a sailor with a peg leg! I actually hated this book, but I wouldn’t resist including crazy old Ahab on this list. I really can’t blame the guy for wanting revenge on the jerk of a whale who bit off his leg. (Seriously though, since when do whales bite off legs? Orcas are penguin eating bastards, but your typical whale? Ahab must have REALLY pissed him off.)


4. Mad Eye Moody from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: Mad Eye’s auror duties landed him in a lot of battles with dark witches and wizards and he came out rather worse for the wear as a result. In addition to half his nose and his left eye, the poor dude lost half a leg as well. He still fought the good fight, though!

5. Cormoran Strike from The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith: It’s everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly detective! Cormoran lost his leg in Afghanistan, which totally sucks, but he’s still a total badass. (Interesting that Rowling has written two distinct characters missing legs… I wonder if there’s some kind of connection there. Maybe she’s got a pal rocking a prosthesis?)

I’m sure I’ve left someone out, Bookworms. Got a favorite character who just happens to have lost a leg? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Jan 20

Book Blogs I Adore: Top Ten Tuesday

Blogging, Top Ten Tuesday 39

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and, really, is there a better day of the week? (Don’t answer that, Tuesday can hear you.) This week the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have declared this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic a FREEBIE. I decided that I’d make a list of some of my favorite book blogs and share some of the loooove. I’m listing the book blogs I visit and comment on most frequently. That doesn’t mean I don’t love all sorts of other blogs (bookish and otherwise), it’s just that I wanted to send a little extra special love to these folks. I HAD TO MAKE CHOICES! I have met none of these folks in person, but believe you me, if I ever do, there will be SO MUCH HUGGING.


1. Sarah Says Read: Sarah is amazing. She unapologetically reads what she likes and doesn’t buy into the concept of guilty pleasures. I also love that during Sarah Sundays she’ll share tidbits about her life. I like to hear about the reader in addition to the books. Full of awesome, Sarah is. (And she’d appreciate that Yoda-ism, because she’s just that cool.)

2. Read a Latte: Amy is my spirit animal (not to be confused with my patronus, which is, in fact, a prehistoric giant penguin.) She writes a super fun, thoughtful blog, and she’s beyond adorable. If you’re not already reading a-latte, you need to check it out!

3. Capricious Reader: I’d be lost without Heather, LOST, I tell you! She is genuine, kind, hilarious, AND she’s got killer taste in books. She and I are secretly little old ladies, which is cool, because it’s a relief to finally have someone to discuss the finer points of shuffleboard with.

4. Estella’s Revenge: Andi, Andi, Andi. This girl. She is an endlessly patient mentor to those of us who go to her for advice (often with arms flailing in full panic mode.) She’s also got some mad fashionista skills and her instagram feed inspires me to embrace my girly side.

5. River City Reading: Shannon is a peach. She reads a lot of literary fiction and new releases and mixes her reviews with a lot of cool, insightful think pieces. Her picks often challenge me to pick up some cerebral stuff that’s a little outside my comfort zone. It’s always good to have someone to help you push your boundaries.


6. The Relentless Reader: Jen is a fellow Midwestern book maven. Lately she’s been doing a lot of mini-review posts which are bite sized and full of goodness. She also totally posts food porn which makes me wish I were less inept in the kitchen.

7. The Well Read Redhead: I’m amazed that Kelly manages to read at all, what with her pair of outrageously adorable little boys. She’s always got some humor sneaking into her reviews and discussions, and CLEARLY, the way to my heart is through my funny bone.

8. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall: Monika is my favorite book pusher in all the land! I tease her a lot because she is such a great advocate for the books she loves and she’s convinced me to pick up a number of things I’d otherwise have missed out on. (I may also be BFFs with her 4-year-old. C rules.)

9. The Misfortune of Knowing: AMB keeps one of the most innovative blogs in the book blogosphere. She manages to intermingle books and legal discussions which are always informative and entertaining. As if that weren’t enough, her blog name is Jane Austen inspired. Glorious.

10. Fourth Street Review: Rory reads all the dark and twisty things, and she’s my go-to resource for Stephen King recommendations. (I always ask her for the ones that won’t give me nightmares.) She also makes super fun Literary Mix Tapes and recommends books based on other great stuff (like GILMORE GIRLS!) You know that’s a good time!

I know there are tons of awesome book blogs out there and I’ve obviously had to leave some out of ye old list of ten. What are some of YOUR favorite book blogs, Bookworms?


Jan 19

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Contemporary Fiction, Supernatural 16

Greetings Bookworms!

Sometimes I need a little magic in my life. I was really excited when I saw that Sarah Addison Allen had a new book on the horizon. I navigated straight to NetGalley where I requested (and was granted) a complimentary review copy of First Frost. This in no way affects the integrity of the following review. My integrity is questionable regardless of free books.

firstfrostThe Waverley women are a bit different. They live in a small southern town where they are renowned for their unique and magical gifts. Claire has a way with food and flowers- she can infuse her concoctions with feeling. Her sister Sydney has the ability to make good hair days happen (a magical gift anyone can appreciate when they wake up faced with mad bedhead.) Sydney’s teenage daughter Bay knows exactly where everything and everyone belongs. The Waverley homestead has a personality all its own, and the apple tree in the back yard is fond of passive-aggressively flinging apples in the direction of people it doesn’t like. (It’s rather Oz-ian that way.)

Things never run smoothly when you’ve got magic to contend with, do they? A mysterious stranger shows up in town intent on disrupting the delicate Waverley balance and things go a bit wonky. Teenage heartache? Pining for a family? Desperate attempts to help the self destructive? This book has ALL THE THINGS. Plus, you know, MAGIC. This book was the perfect read for me at the perfect time. I’ve got a soft spot for this sort of Southern charm, and I really needed this bit of magic to brighten up my winter blahs. Sarah Addison Allen is often compared to Alice Hoffman, which is apt, but where Hoffman goes dark, Allen goes light. That, my friends, is pure magic. Get thee a copy of First Frost post haste!

Talk to me, Bookworms. How do you feel about magic in books? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*



Jan 16

Literary Love Connection: Tartan Rules

Literary Love Connection 19

Hello My Dear Bookworms,

When I’m bored, I like to play imaginary matchmaker. Fictional characters dance around in my head and I want them to be dancing with each other, see? Brace yourselves. There’s about to be a lot of plaid.



Today’s Bachelor is Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser from The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. Murtagh is a quiet fellow who enjoys casual cattle theft, whisky, and has a lovely singing voice. He spends his free time attempting to bail out a charming yet mischievous young lad who seems hell-bent on his own destruction.

Today’s Bachelorette is Minerva McGonagall from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. Minerva is a no-nonsense professor of magic who enjoys transfiguration, pithy comebacks, and becoming a cat when the mood strikes. She spends her free time attempting to bail out a charming yet mischievous young lad who seems hell-bent on his own destruction.

Date Takes Place on a moor in the Scottish Highlands

McGonagall: Good evening, Mr. Fraser.

Murtagh: (Startled) Oh. Aye. Where’d ye come from? I dinna see a horse…

McGonagall: I apparated, naturally. I’ve brought some firewhisky. Care for a dram?

Murtagh: Aye, a dram wouldna come amiss. Apparation, ye say?

McGonagall: It’s nice to see a man in a kilt. I’m surrounded by wizards in robes all day long, but so little tartan.

Murtagh: (Crosses Self) Are ye some sort of witch?!

McGonagall: Yes. Is that a problem for you? Actually, it’s a bit of a problem for me. I hope you don’t mind having your memory modified, but I could get into a lot of trouble if the ministry found out about our rendezvous.

Murtagh: Aye, well. I suppose it’s not the most outlandish thing I’ve ever heard. My godson went and married himself a time-travelling sassenach. That’s when he’s not trying to single-handedly take on an army of redcoats, mind. Wee bugger’s going to be the death of me.

McGonagall: Tell me about it. I have a student who continuously tries to take on the world’s most dangerous dark wizard on his own. Before Mr. Potter started at Hogwarts, I had significantly less gray hair.

Murtagh: (Lifting a glass) Aye. Here’s to our pair o’ trouble makers. May they live to an age older than this whisky! By the way, your hair’s bonnie. It suits you.

McGonagall: (Blushes) Sláinte!


Welcome to the weird Literary Love Connection universe, Minurtaugh! Snaponine and Scarcliff probably won’t be happy to see you, but I wouldn’t worry about it. They don’t like anybody.

My darling bookworms, I’m always open to character suggestions! Hit me up with characters you’d like to see go on fake dates!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Jan 15

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Humor 23

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

Everyone’s family has a little bit of drama and/or weirdness going on. I mean, it wouldn’t be family if there weren’t some sort of dysfunction going on somewhere. I think that’s why I tend to be drawn to family dramas with a twisted sense of humor. This month, my IRL book club (affectionately dubbed “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” because, well, they are) chose This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper to discuss. Holy bagels and lox, Batman, this book was something else!

thisiswhereileaveyouThe Foxman family put the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” After their father passes away (because cancer is a jerk) the four Foxman children convene in their childhood home to sit shiva for their father. For anybody unfamiliar with Jewish custom, sitting shiva is kind of like a week long wake. The mourning family is visited throughout the week and inundated with sympathy food and awkward conversation. (There’s some sort of universal law that says one must feed the grieving. It’s one I subscribe to myself.) Most families would be on the verge of coming to blows after an entire week in close quarters, mourning not withstanding.

Judd Foxman is our narrator, one of the Foxman siblings. In addition to having recently lost his father, he is also in the midst of a messy divorce. Divorces tend to get messy when you catch your spouse in flagrante delicto with your boss. Even more so when you find out said spouse is expecting a child.

Reading about the Foxmans made me feel so normal. I had a great time reading this book and it ran quite the gamut emotionally. One of my favorite things about the book, though, was that almost every time I got the urge to jump through the pages and punch a fictional character, another fictional character took care of that for me. This one isn’t for the faint of heart or the easily offended, but if irreverent humor and quirky familial drama are your thing, you need to give This Is Where I Leave You a read!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk. Are there any TV shows or books you like to indulge in simply because they make you feel like less of a screw up? I can’t be the only one… Dish!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Jan 13

You’ve Read ALL THE AUSTEN. Now What?

Idiosyncratic Lit List 31

Salutations, Bookworms!

Let’s talk about Jane Austen. I love her to pieces, but she only wrote six novels and a handful of short stories. Six novels! What is one to do once one has finished ALL THE AUSTEN? I have good news for you, my fellow Austen-ites. There are a lot of other Austen nerds. Austen nerds who have written Austen-inspired books. I made a list for you. You can thank me later.


1. Longbourn by Jo Baker (review): This book might be my favorite on the list. It’s essentially Pride and Prejudice, from a servant’s perspective. I saw Jo Baker speak about the book (and she was SO NICE!) and she said that you could read Pride and Prejudice and Longbourn together and basically follow a character out of a room from Pride and Prejudice and see what they do below stairs in Longbourn. It’s a fantastic book, I can’t recommend it enough.

2. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler: This book isn’t among my favorites ever, but if you’re in the right mood for it, it can be fun. It’s basically a Freaky Friday scenario in which a modern woman who is obsessed with Jane Austen switches brains with a woman from Regency England. My favorite bit about this book was when the narrator discusses how dang stinky everyone is in the absence of deodorant and indoor plumbing. Details like that take some of the romance out of my daydreams and make me happy to live in the here and now.

3. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: A group of people form a club specifically to read all Jane Austen’s novels. How much fun would that be?! The book is a look at those in the club, but there’s obviously a good dose of Austen-licious-ness, so you know it’s a good time. Plus, one of the club members (a dude, no less) goes the extra mile and reads The Mysteries of Udolpho. I can just imagine Catherine Moreland clapping her hands with glee at the thought!


4. First Impressions by Charlie Lovett (review): For those who love stories that tackle the origin of books, this is a big winner. This book gives a double dose of book nerd glory with a glimpse into the world of rare books AND an imagining of Jane Austen’s inspiration and writing process. Really, though. Can you imagine writing an entire novel with a quill? That seems like a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome. Maybe THAT is why we only got six novels.

5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (review): Okay, I’ll admit, there are a lot of hardcore Austen fans who will balk at this one, but hear me out. This book is Jane Austen repackaged in a fun, modern light. With zombies. But the Bennet sisters are total badasses! I love those girls, truly I do, but it’s refreshing to see them doing something other than waiting around for suitors to call. Even if that something is extermination of the undead.

6. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters (review): You guys, I loved this book. Even more than Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesIt’s STEAMPUNK Jane Austen. And Colonel Brandon has a squid face. Purists probably hate this one as well, but I implore you, my bookworms, to give it a shot. Such fun!

Alright, Bookworms, I know there are oodles more Jane Austen offshoots out there. Anybody have a favorite? (I promise I won’t judge you if you love any of the Darcy-Lizzie sequels that include the scandalous bits.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use it to purchase shoe roses and tea cups, obviously.*


Jan 12

Raaw-Oooh-Ugh-Blurgh (That’s Zombie for THE WALKING DEAD!)

comics, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Zombies 23

Raaw-Oooh-Ugh-Blurgh Bookworms!

Y’all know I love me some zombie lit. You may not know that AMC’s The Walking Dead was my gateway drug into zombie lore. Thus, it might come as a surprise that until recently I’d never read the comics. I KNOW! Thankfully, I remedied the situation (with the help of my indulgent Mother-in-Law who didn’t blink when I put The Walking Dead: Compendium One on my Christmas list.)

twdcomponeI’ve never read any comics or graphic novels prior to this book. They’re all the rage these days, and I knew that I was missing out. I figured the best place to start was with a story I already loved, and I was RIGHT. I chewed through all 1100 some pages of this bad boy in record time. Granted, most of those pages were pictures with minimal text, but it makes me feel accomplished nonetheless.

If you’ve been living under a rock, The Walking Dead takes place in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Where did it come from? Nobody knows. All anybody knows is that zombies want to eat people, and that they can only be killed by destruction of the brain. Seriously. Dismembered heads are still pretty chompy, you’ve got to make sure you do damage to the gray matter. You’ve got the monster element plus the “holy crap there’s no electricity” element which all adds up to awesomeness.

I’m typically a “the book is better than the movie/tv show” sort of gal, but I am seriously digging what they did with The Walking DeadThe show and the comics diverge significantly, which means that just when I think I know what’s about to happen, I’m surprised! Sometimes I liked a character on the show much better than in the comics (Carol, anyone?) or liked a character better in the comic than in the show (Comic Lori was way less obnoxious.) There are characters in the show that aren’t in the comics and vice versa. All in all, it’s just a good crazy zombie-tastic time. I know Compendium Two is going on my birthday list!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you prefer book to screen adaptations to be perfectly faithful or are you okay with a a good amount of divergence? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this website, I will receive a small commission.*